As skin care professionals, it is our job to encourage proper grooming habits with education. Most men do not realize that many of their skin care issues can be solved rather easily by making a few changes and adjusting their routine. Once you get them started on this new dermal journey, chances are high that they will be loyal to you for years to come.
When treating men, we first have to understand that men’s overall skin care needs are vastly different than women’s needs. This is largely due to hormonal influences. Not only do men have facial hair, there are structural differences between a man’s skin and a woman’s skin. Androgen (testosterone) stimulation causes an increase in skin thickness, which is why men’s skin is about 22 percent thicker than women’s skin.1
In addition to being thicker, a man’s skin texture is tougher and has more collagen.2 Sebum and its production also differ. After puberty, sebum production is greater in males than females, which is attributed to androgen secretions and accounts for why men have longer lasting acne. As a result of these differences, here are some solutions to treat common skin issues among men.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Collagens are a group of proteins in the dermis, the connective tissue layer of the skin, and are responsible for the strength of skin. The human body makes a lot of collagen in youth and is responsible for that soft, fresh, healthy glow. As we age, collagen production declines.
A study published in the Optics Letters found that relative amounts of collagen and elastin and the physical appearance of the dermis are related to age and gender, with women’s skin aging faster than men. Since women are dealing with aging skin at an earlier age, they tend to incorporate a healthy skin care routine early on and stick with it.
Men, on the other hand, may be slow to the draw when it comes to treating and preventing the early signs of aging. The benefits of slow biological aging are often counterbalanced later in life. Men tend to be less sun savvy than women, meaning they do not use sunscreen to protect their skin from harmful ultraviolet damage nor do they seek out products with antioxidants that help to repair the damage after it has been done or minimize the effects of present and future environmental factors.
Encourage your clients to incorporate a two-in-one moisturizer into their daily routine. Look for moisturizers that not only offer protection from the sun but that are loaded with antioxidants. Stress the importance of moisturizing daily – even to younger clients. If they can get into the habit early on, it will help to slow down aging later in life.
Acne and Oily Skin
Oiliness of the face is extremely common in men and is a direct result of their hormones. Men’s hormones signal the skin of the face to secrete sebum, which can lead to acne, acne scars, and enlarged oil glands that look like little pink bumps on the forehead and cheeks.
With teenage years safely behind him, many male clients think that acne should be a problem of days gone by. However, factors such as humidity, stress, and heavy sweating can cause adult acne. If acne is serious, recommend that your clients see a primary care physician or dermatologist to get the problem under control. For less serious acne flare-ups, recommend they schedule regular facials to combat oily skin challenges, followed by a skin care regimen that is right for their skin. Avoid products that are known for drying out the skin as that can lead to irritation and an overproduction of oil. It is important that your client follows a regimen that includes cleansing, moisturizing, and exfoliating with ingredients that are gentle, yet effective on his skin.
Even though a man’s skin is thicker than a woman’s, sensitive skin is a common problem for men. Sensitive skin can manifest as redness, burning, itching, or dryness in reaction to changes in diet, weather, lifestyle, stress, and new detergent or skin care products.
When treating clients with sensitive skin, first try to identify what is causing the reaction. Is it a particular skin care product, an allergen, stress or changes in the weather? Although there may be some things that cannot be controlled, one thing that can be controlled is what he applies to his face. Many men will continue to use the same products over and over again without realizing that causes the skin to be irritated. Be sure to use and recommend products that are formulated specifically for sensitive skin.
About 14 million Americans credit their rosy face to the inflammatory skin disease called rosacea. It is not life threatening, but it delivers a major blow to your appearance and self-esteem. And if left untreated, it gets worse over time.
Rosacea can range from mild, occasional flushing to permanent redness to thickened skin and an enlarged nose, which is almost always seen in men, not women. The inflammation in the skin and enlarged blood vessels cause redness and flushing, which can lower a man’s confidence in social and professional settings. Men may think that there is less they can do to camouflage and treat their skin than women, but in fact there are many ways in which their rosacea can be treated and improved.
Treatment requires prescription drugs, but self-care is important, too. Everyone is different, so it is necessary to pinpoint what causes flare-ups – the sun, certain foods – and minimize exposure to those things. Other prevention strategies include wearing sunscreen, avoiding rubbing or touching the face too much, and not using products with alcohol on the skin.
The first step in healing to sooth and treat skin with rosacea is with twice-daily gentle cleansing. This will remove excess oil, environmental debris, bacteria, and other microorganisms, as well as the residue from skin care products.
When recommending a cleanser, be sure that it is compatible with your client’s skin type. Keep in mind that unless skin is oily, non-soap cleansers may be the best
option — they rinse off easily and have a neutral pH that is closer to the natural pH of the skin.
Once the skin has been thoroughly cleansed, it is important that it is always followed by a moisturizer with sunscreen. Keeping skin protected and moisturized will prevent the burning, stinging, itching, and irritation often associated with rosacea. A lightweight moisturizer will build a barrier to keep out impurities and irritants that may aggravate sensitive skin.
Dark Under-Eye Circles
We have all been there before – catching a glimpse of ourselves after a late night out with the telltale under-eye darkness. Those dark circles can be inherited, but a lack of sleep and poor diet only make it worse.
The skin around the eyes is 10 times thinner than the skin on the face. As we age, skin loses its elasticity and becomes even thinner due to a breakdown of collagen. This can be further aggravated by sun exposure, smoking, and other environmental exposures.
Making simple changes in one’s diet (such as eating more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, drinking water, and exercising) can help reduce the dark circles, as well as increase overall skin health.
Women often reach for their concealers for a quick fix, whereas guys tend to ignore it. However, in recent years, men have stepped up their grooming game and are more likely to try products specifically formulated for their skin needs. When recommending products, it is important that they select one that contains gentle, non-irritating ingredients that reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Seek out eye creams rich in vitamins, antioxidants and skin-tightening ingredients for their immediate and long-lasting effect.
It is safe to say that when it comes to grooming, most men have experienced the dreaded razor bump, also called pseudofollicultis barbae. They can appear anywhere; however, men are typically plagued by razor bumps on their faces and necks due to shaving improperly. These painful bumps and pustules occur when hairs curl back into the skin causing the body to produce an inflammatory response resulting in bumps, pus, discoloration, and keloidal scars. This can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing.
When bumps arise, recommend that shaving be postponed for a couple of days to allow the hair to grow out. When he is ready to resume shaving, be sure he follows proper shaving steps. Stress the importance of exfoliating (a shaving brush will do this for him) on a regular basis to buff away the dead skin cells into which the hair can grow back, and shave in the direction of hair growth with a sharp blade every time.
In addition to a healthy and proper shaving routine, which can help prevent and eliminate razor bumps, there are also treatments available to heal, calm, and soothe irritated skin. Use a nourishing after-shave to restore moisture and soothe the skin.
As men become more comfortable seeking out individualized, professional skin care treatments, it is important to be ready to offer options and services that appeal to them with knowledgeable advice and guidance. After decades of serving a mostly female clientele, the spa industry has seen a significant increase in male spa-goers. In fact, according to the International Spa Association, men now make up 29 percent of all spa goers, and reports that male spa habitués are more likely to indulge themselves on a weekly basis. If you are equipped with the knowledge of how to treat common men’s skin conditions with products and services that are results-oriented, you will have a loyal male following for years to come.
1 Escoffier C., de Rigal J., Rochefort A., Vasselet R., Lévêque J.L. & Agache P.: Age-related mechanical properties of human skin: an in vivo study. J Invest Dermatol 1989; 93:353-7.
2 Schuster S., Black M.M., MacVitie E.: The influence of age and sex on skin thickness, skin collagen and density. Br J Dermatol 1975, 93: 639-643.
Danielle Malka is president of êShave, the leading brand of modern shaving essentials. Malka has been educating men on the proper way to shave for the past 25 years. She lived as a professional artist before making her mark in the men’s grooming industry. Working alongside some of the best barbers in the world, she discovered that the men’s grooming industry lacked both modern appeal and education. Her creative background coupled with the need to share her discoveries prompted her to educate men on proper grooming habits, inspired the creation of êShave. www.eshave.com